Distance Muffles Agony
Pithy sayings command focus. Consider these words spoken from the pulpit by a seminary student: “Distance muffles agony.” The words hit me so forcefully that even as I quote them, I involuntarily pause to absorb their impact. Their truth is immediately obvious. In 2019, after 300,000 people contracted measles, more than 6,000 died of the disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it is likely you knew neither number, nor the fact that devastating locust plagues are currently decimating the hope of harvest in large swaths of Africa, because distance muffles agony. Geographical and relational distance alike muffle agony. When my neighbor’s father died, we sent a card. When my husband’s father died, we mourned, planned, traveled, remembered, prayed, moved quickly or in slow motion or not at all. The neighbor’s father was no less a father, but he wasn’t our father.
This matter of distance muffling agony is on my mind because, in the midst of all the calls for social distancing, we may ask if temporarily removing the company of friends and co-workers might actually help us to hear more clearly.
The current restrictions on our interactions naturally incline us to focus on our own circumstances . . . On the other hand, what if this current distancing cancels the muffling effect and enables us to hear well? The current restrictions on our interactions naturally incline us to focus on our own circumstances: “I miss my friends.” “My wedding will have to wait.” “My move is on hold indefinitely.” “My truncated senior year means little celebration.” “Do I really have to cook again?” On the other hand, what if this current distancing cancels the muffling effect and enables us to hear well? It may take prayerful intent, but could it be that we are to hear not only the birds that are no longer drowned out by traffic, but also to hear the wooing call of our God to test and try him and find him sufficient? Could it be that we are to hear not just the buzz of our phones but to hear the cry for help from our next-door neighbor or the one across the globe? Could it be that there will be enough quiet to turn our ears and minds and hearts and hands towards those who need them desperately?
Could it be?
About the Author
Imported from across the Atlantic, where she learned to love languages, old cities, and a great cup of coffee, Margot has served at Trinity Christian School since 2003. Her awe of God and the work He is doing at TCS increases with each passing year.